Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seminar news

Last Saturday, the 24th, I attended my genealogy society's seminar. I am a member of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society and we have a pretty good record on speakers for our members monthly. About twice a year we plan a seminar and hope it is a success. Lots of work involved for the committee.

This past Saturday we answered some requests by our members who wanted to know more about Indians, American that is, and how the Irish and Scots-Irish immigrations affected them.

Our speakers were:
 Donna Bradley, a professional genealogist for 17 years. She specializes in Native American ancestry, but is competent in all areas of international genealogical research. She now has over 67,000 members in her database. She is of Native American ancestry and her family has been in the Northern California area for thousands of years.

Anne Bowman has lived and worked in the San Diego area for over 25 years, she was born and raised in Chicago where she obtained her dental degree and then went to LSU in New Orleans where she received a Specialty Certificate in Periodontics. She became interested in genealogy when her niece was born and what began as a casual hobby evolved into a new career. Her goal is to earn Certification from the Board of Genealogical Certification. Anne is a member of the National Genealogical Society, The Association of Professional Genealogists, The Polish Genealogical Society of America and The Southern California Genealogical Society

Our two speakers knew their topics and gave informative and interesting talks.

The first for the day was given by Donna Bradley, our keynote speaker and the topic was "Ways of Getting Over, Around or Under Your Brick Walls". She emphasised working with court records or as she called them 'Plaintiff vs Defendant' records. Many times the defendants whole family is listed and sometimes so is the plaintiffs. If at all possible the original records should be searched on site even though a trip may be necessary. Donna also covered checking books and magazines especially historical articles. she even found a person she was searching for in an architectural magazine. Donna emphasized that history books often enabled your research to progress because you had a better idea of what and why your ancestor did what he did.  As usual I picked up some new hints on where to search.

Anne Bowman was up next with an excellent talk on "Scots-Irish Research Clues". Anne cautioned that you should not expect to find success 'over the pond' until you were finished with every resource you could find here in the states. She gave us a list of websites and explained what you might find at those sites; she then started us in Ireland with a list she called "from the greatest to the smallest."
There was a list of all the different entities that must be dealt with including both civil and religious parishes, counties, and districts. I am glad I am not ready yet, because I intend to listen to more talks by Anne and get many more details on the search.

Donna  gave the third talk of the day titled "American Indian Research" which covered many of the reasons why finding your Indian ancestor is so difficult. Indians had no concept of owning land, therefore no land deeds, only that they were the caretakers of this gift on which they lived. Indians had been resident here thousands of years before the land was 'discovered' by the Europeans and so were unable to cope with the idea that the land was  personal property.
Since there were very few white women that traveled into the interior or down the mountain trails, indian women were taken as partners and thus many families have the legend that Grandma was an indian, usually the tale goes that she was an "Indian Princess'.
In the 1800's children were taken from their parents and placed in indian schools which did their best to eradicate any memories that the children had that they were Indian. The children were given anglicised or Spanish names depending on the area of the country they lived and their parents or tribes were moved back further and further from the area where the children had been born. This created a problem for the children when they were released from the school, usually in their 20's as most could not remember their Indian name, their language or their parents. Consequently this now causes you a problem in going back any further in your ancestry.
Your first step is to get a DNA test of your ethnicity, make sure there really is Indian in your ancestry and then be prepared to search diligently to find a clue.
Donna's talk was distinctive, informative and gave history, especially that of the American Indian an entirely unfamiliar perspective than what we were taught in school.


  1. Donna did an excellent job on Indian study as you mentioned from the schooling of the Indian children from mid 1800s. Forward.

    She spoke as you mentioned of her many frustrations with her research. I was hopeing in her handout. What small evidence she used and then how she tracked her lineage. Was it through these Indian schools she found her lineage? So stated you do pick up your heritage if your heritage is not too far back.

    Regarding land ownership. There are many written but not all honored land treaties and military records available. For before 1800s.

    One of Donna's fustrations were due to the practice of cremation. Although many tribes did practice cremations. The particular tribes in California Donna referred to has a protected burial ground in California.

  2. Do you think we will have more native American presentations? This woman seemed pretty angry over the Indian issues.